At 6:30 in the morning, Spring got up. At 7 a.m., he left home and walked 10 minutes to the metro station. The metro system of this city resembled the spider webs of his hometown. In fact, it was denser than spider webs, covering every corner of this city.
It would take Spring over an hour to get to his destination on the trains of two metro lines. The first metro was Line 6, with large crowds of people waiting for the train. It had only four carriages and couldn’t hold very many people.
Spring was at the front of the line and was pushed aboard by people behind him. The carriage was already full. Several times, he was pushed in front of a beautiful young girl, whose perfume and warm breath, like spring water spraying on his face, stirred his heart. Spring’s face was getting a little hot and there was some emotions slowly rising in his heart.
Spring thought of his favorite girl, Qiumei, from middle school. Qiumei was like a beautiful flower blooming in front of him, who Spring could appreciate, but dared not touch. Spring never told Qiumei that he liked her and didn’t even touch her hand. But now, Spring couldn’t help thinking about her.
Then, Spring transferred to Line 2, which was also crowded. However, the carriage was large. It was very convenient for passengers to transfer from Line 6 to Line 2; they just needed to make a turn and walk a few dozen steps. Line 2 traversed the city from one end to the other, and passed through the most prosperous part of the city.
Spring saw many well-dressed men and women get on and off the metro, and no matter who they were, they always seemed to be in a hurry. It reminded Spring of his hometown, where life was slow, so slow that, when his mother called him to get up early in the morning, he replied and fell back to sleep. It was so slow that, when his father went out to have a smoke and didn’t come back for a long time, his mother went to check and found her husband still happily blowing smoke. She just shook her head with a smile and went to the river to wash clothes. By the river, many women were washing clothes, just like her. They washed slowly and chatted leisurely. With time slipping slowly through their fingers like the river, they felt free to chat.
People at work were busy, as if they were propelled by rocket launchers mounted on their behinds. Spring remembered that the manager couldn’t wait to make job arrangements for him as soon as he arrived at the office. “Today, you have five tasks to finish first.” As the third task was being done, the manager called him and said, “Come here quickly. There is an emergency that is more important than anything. Deal with it now!” Then, Spring had to quickly run to the manager’s office. Many times, the manager’s calls were like emergent reminders, which kept Spring as busy spinning like a nonstop spinning top or a roly-poly toy that never fell.
Every time he was busy, Spring thought of springtime in the city. What a beautiful city it was during spring. There were green trees and colorful flowers in the parks, the elderly walking on the streets, and children running happily in the sunshine.
Spring also thought of the girl he loved, Xu Lingyue. She was a pretty girl who worked in the same office for whom he had bought hot breakfasts, delicious lunches, and tasty afternoon tea. Before he could express his love for her, he saw her gracefully walk out of the office one day and get into a bright and big car, which, amid the spring breeze, spewed out thick smoke, and whistled away.
At the end of the year, Spring was walking on a city street when a good-looking girl, holding a microphone, stopped him and asked: “Sir, I’m a reporter from the city TV station. Can you tell us what spring means to you?” Spring said with a smile to the girl and camera: “Well, as for spring, I think it means hopes and dreams.”
Selected from Chinese Flash Fiction, complied by China Flash Fiction Society, and published by New World Press.